Ina Fried

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Interview: Stephen Elop on Apple’s Map Flap and Why Location Is a Big Part of Nokia’s Future

Though happy to see Nokia’s mapping business get a nod from Apple, CEO Stephen Elop says there is a lot more to his company’s bet on location services than just a mapping app that works.

“We have said all along that it takes many years and billions of dollars to build up (a mapping business),” Elop told AllThingsD on Tuesday. “It’s not just the maps. It’s everything around it that makes it a useful location-based service.”

Ever since the iOS 6 map issues emerged, Nokia has been pointing disgruntled iPhone maps users toward its mobile Web service, which also offers turn-by-turn directions.

Apple and the rest of the industry are seeing just how hard it is to do mapping well, Elop said.

“I’m not talking about some city being in the middle of the ocean or Paddington Station showing up as a park,” Elop said.

Location-based services, broadly speaking, are critical to the future of phones, Elop said. While mapping is today still a comparatively small source of revenue for Nokia, Elop said it is a growth business, as evidenced by recent deals with Amazon and Oracle.

Elop said the location business is one of five key businesses for Nokia, alongside basic phones, Windows-based smartphones, cellular infrastructure (through its Nokia Siemens operation) and patent licensing.

“There (are) a whole generation of location-based applications that are just being invented,” Elop said. “Having a strong position in a location-based platform — the thing that defines mobility — is a very powerful place to be. But we’ve got to use it wisely.”

As for the plug from Apple, Elop says he’ll take it.

“Seeing ourselves on as a recommended source of mapping capability on the iPhone — I’m glad to see that,” Elop said. “At the same time we are going to use it heavily to differentiate our devices as well.”

We talked about a ton of other topics with Elop, so stay tuned for much more to come.

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